Automated Driving System (ADS) permit scheme

From 28 September 2018, anyone who wants to operate an automated vehicle with the ADS engaged (automated mode) in an ADS trial on Victorian roads will need an ADS permit. 

Permits will be required to operate an automated vehicle with the ADS engaged (automated mode) for the purpose of an ADS trial. An ADS trial means using the vehicle for any of the following purposes:

  • Testing the operation of the vehicle in automated mode
  • Testing the safety of automated capabilities
  • Assisting the development of automated capabilities 
  • Enabling road authorities to monitor and manage the use and impacts of automated vehicles on roads, and assisting us to ensure a safe and efficient road network (e.g. trials with an infrastructure or road management focus).

If the vehicle is not being used in automated mode for the purposes of an ADS trial, an ADS permit will not be required. However, the human driver remains responsible and must have proper control of the vehicle at all times. Examples of when a permit will not be required include:

  • Use of the vehicle without engaging the ADS (i.e. driven normally)
  • Personal use of a commercially available vehicle with no active research, testing or development purpose.

If you would like further information about the ADS permit scheme, or wish to apply for a permit, please contact us at [email protected]

ADS permits

ADS permits are available to individuals and companies. To be eligible for a permit, applicants need to demonstrate that they have considered all the relevant safety risks and have strategies in place to mitigate them. This includes having a safety management plan and public liability insurance.

All permits are subject to conditions which relate to the use of the vehicle, record keeping and reporting.

When a vehicle is in automated mode, permit holders are responsible for the actions of the vehicle as the driver. Test drivers (vehicle supervisors) are considered to be in charge of the vehicle, and have similar obligations to a licensed driver supervising a learner.

For more information about the scheme, including the conditions that will apply to a permit, refer to the Automated Driving System (ADS) permit scheme information document [PDF 261 Kb]

Trial guidelines

The Victorian Guidelines for Trials of Automated Vehicles have been developed to provide practical guidance for ADS permit holders and potential applicants. 

The Victorian Guidelines are based on the principles developed by the National Transport Commission and Austroads (Guidelines for Trials of Automated Vehicles in Australia), but address the application requirements in detail, including the safety management plan, required insurance, and information and reports to be provided.

They also provide information about obligations under other laws that may apply to ADS trials.

The Victorian Guidelines will be updated from time to time and published in the Government Gazette.

Current status: Published in Government Gazette, no. S421, Wednesday 12 September 2018


To apply for an ADS permit, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • If you are applying on behalf of a company, the company must be a corporation within the meaning of the Corporations Act 2001 of the Commonwealth, and not insolvent or an externally administered body within the meaning of that Act.
  • If you are an individual applicant, you must hold a full Australian driver licence.

Vehicle supervisor requirements

To operate an automated vehicle in an ADS trial, a vehicle supervisor must:

  • hold a current full driver licence (not probationary or learner) which authorises them to drive the vehicle
  • meet Austroads fitness to drive requirements
  • obey all Victorian road rules
  • comply with all conditions of the ADS permit
  • have the applicable ADS permit document in their possession at all times while driving or in charge of the vehicle
  • comply with any conditions imposed on their driver licence.

More information for vehicle supervisors can be found in the Automated Driving System (ADS) permit scheme information document [PDF 261 Kb]

Incident reporting

One of the main purposes of the ADS permit scheme is to ensure that testing and development of automated vehicles is conducted safely.
Certain incidents that may pose significant safety or security risks during a trial are classed as serious incidents. Serious incidents are defined under the regulations and cover certain road rule breaches and other incidents which have the potential to result in serious harm. 

ADS permit holders are required to complete and submit a Serious Incident Report [PDF 141Kb] within 24 hours of becoming aware of a serious incident. 

We will review all reports received and take action if required. Some incidents will result in an automatic suspension of the permit as soon as we're notified.

Further information about serious incidents and the responsibilities of permit holders can be found in the Guidelines and Automated Driving System (ADS) permit scheme information document [PDF 261 Kb] information document.

To apply for an ADS permit, you must meet the eligibility criteria and submit:

  • a completed ADS permit application form [PDF 622 Kb]
  • a copy of a safety management plan that complies with the Victorian Guidelines for Trials of Automated Vehicles (Guidelines)
  • evidence of Public Liability Insurance and any other insurance required under the Guidelines
  • evidence of incorporation (companies only)
  • a copy of a Traffic Management Plan (if required)

If you are applying on behalf of a company, you must also provide an original letter of authority. This must be on incorporated letterhead and include:

  • Full company name and address on letterhead
  • Australian Company Number (ACN) or Australian Registered Body Number (ARBN), where applicable
  • Name of person acting on behalf of the company
  • List of activities that can be performed on behalf of the company (e.g. apply for and manage ADS permit related matters).

The letter must be signed by two company directors, or a director and company secretary. Where there is a sole director, the letter must be signed by that director.

We are currently finalising the details, so if you wish to make an application, or have any enquiries, please email us at [email protected]

Special approvals

Some trials may require special approvals. Examples of where special approvals will be required include trials involving:

  • lane or road closures or reductions of speed limits
  • vehicles that do not comply with Australian Design Rules (ADRs) or standards for registration
  • low speed driverless shuttles (such as the Navya or Easymile vehicles)
  • footpath-based delivery robots
  • truck platooning where vehicles closely follow one another
  • exemptions from, or modification to, laws.

For further information about the above, please refer to the Guidelines or contact us at: [email protected] 

How long will it take to get approval?

Processing times will depend on the nature of the vehicle and the type of trial.

If you require any special approvals such as exemptions from laws or major road closures, you must send your application to us at least 60 days prior to when you propose to begin testing.

Please allow extra time for imported vehicles.

Getting help with your trial

Automated vehicles operate more efficiently in a supported environment. Your trial could be supported by:

  • major traffic control items (signs, lines, road profile)
  • connected vehicle infrastructure (cooperative ITS road side units)

If you'd like support for you trial, please get in touch.

If you want to import a vehicle for testing in Victoria, you need to contact the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

You'll also need to submit a copy of your Vehicle Import Approval (VIA) to us with your permit application.

Please note: if your vehicle requires a VIA it may take longer to process your application. You should contact us early if you intend to import a non-standard vehicle.

What is an automated vehicle?

An automated vehicle is one that has an automated driving system (ADS), which when engaged, can perform the entire dynamic driving task. This equates to SAE level 3 driving automation or higher.

When is a vehicle in automated mode?

A vehicle is in automated mode, when the dynamic driving task is being performed by the ADS, even if a vehicle supervisor is also monitoring the driving environment or ADS.

An automated vehicle is not considered to be in automated mode if only part of the dynamic driving task is being performed by the vehicle. For example, where only partial functionality is activated (e.g. lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control are on, but the system has limited monitoring capability and expects the human driver to perform the remainder of the dynamic driving task). This would be an example of SAE level 2 driving automation currently found in some vehicles.

What is the dynamic driving task?

The dynamic driving task means all of the real-time operational and tactical functions (other than the selection of final and intermediate destinations) required to operate a vehicle in on-road traffic, including (but not limited to):

  • turning, lane keeping and lane changing and providing the appropriate signal for any such manoeuvre; and
  • accelerating and decelerating; and
  • monitoring the driving environment and responding to whatever objects or events are detected; and
  • manoeuvre planning.

When will a permit be required?

The requirement for an ADS permit is based on the capabilities of the vehicle, rather than how it is being used. This provides a clear and definite point at which a permit is required.

If the vehicle has an automated driving system that is capable of performing the dynamic driving task (within a particular operational design domain) a permit is required to operate it in automated mode for the purposes of an ADS trial.

The below diagram outlines when a permit is required.

Image showing diagram of when an ADS permit may or may not be requeired 

Please note that if the vehicle does not comply with Australian Design Rules (ADRs), is unregistered, or you require exemptions from laws, you will still require approval even if an ADS permit is not required.

What laws apply to an automated vehicle?

ADS permit holders are considered to be the driver when an automated vehicle is operating in automated mode. As the driver, the ADS permit holder is responsible for complying with the same laws that apply to human drivers. This means that the permit holder is responsible for the actions of the vehicle when it is in automated mode.

In addition, the ADS permit holder must comply with all conditions of the permit. This includes submitting all required reports within the specified time frames.
Vehicle supervisors will have similar obligations to a fully licensed driver supervising a learner driver. 

Who can be a vehicle supervisor in an ADS trial?

To be a vehicle supervisor, you will need to hold a full driver licence appropriate for the category of vehicle. Learner permit or probationary driver licence holders are not eligible to be a vehicle supervisor.

Only those named in the ADS permit are authorised to be a vehicle supervisor for that ADS trial. Further information for vehicle supervisors can be found in the Automated Driving System (ADS) permit scheme information document [PDF 261 Kb]

Where can I find the legislation, regulations and standards?

If you would like to find out more about the rules that apply to ADS trials, you can find them here.

Contact us

To find out more information or apply for a testing approval, contact us at [email protected]

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